Sunday, 12 June 2011

Farewell friend... Why do you have to go?

You wave good bye, excited at the adventures new that lay before you, as you look back your friends hands are perhaps only half raised, their smiles are saying 'thank you for coming' but their eyes are shouting, 'why do you have to go?'........

My wife and I have had many privileges in life and some of those have come about through working with some remarkable people in some amazing places. We spent 4 years in the Nilgiris Hills in South India before we eventually joined MAF which has taken us on other adventures and we have 'suffered' many farewells.

Today in Uganda .....  approx every 6th sunday Kampala International Church splits into geographic zones, rather than meeting in one of it's two regular sites. Zone sunday meetings are quite different, smaller more intimate, allows friendships to develop and more folk to be involved and use their gifts and there is always food. Here we are meeting under the shade of the Makindye and Lubowa zones marquee.

...twas a great morning talking and sharing about the pains/challenges of life and how God walks us through them. We worshipped together, shared communion, said some farewells then enjoyed each others company over a meal.

Ummm farewells.... one of the hardest parts of working overseas is letting people into your life then having to let them go again, whilst true for everyone in life, it is especially so when you work abroad. The temptation is perhaps, to close ranks to newcomers, not get so close, after all they will one day leave, as you will also one day. Jesus requires us not to travel alone but to join with and be joined by fellow travellers, be it perhaps only for a season. 
Funny first impressions aren't they, research says we sum people up in the first 27secs! perhaps you think in those early minutes, that  your going to be stuck carrying their burdens, then they surprise you, as they stoop down and carry yours!  True maybe on other days you may have to struggle with theirs, but so often it is not at all like that, it is days of chatting, eating, drinking, laughing and companionable silence. Perhaps they will journey a long way with you, yet you thought it would only be a day or two, whilst others will just travel a 'few miles'. Whatever you do enjoy each days journey.

A really warm thankyou to all those through-out the world who have let my wife and I into their lives and allowed us to share in each others loads.

Saturday, 11 June 2011


'Click,' the last clip of my 5 point safety harness slots into place as I strap into the left seat of my old friend Bill.
Bill - 5X-BIL a 20 year old Cessna 208 Caravan, a 600shp Turbine powered single engined air machine with attitude - room for 1 pilot and 9 passengers - rather like this shot of Bil in Pagak, Southern Sudan. We have had a lot of fun together, having travelled many thousands of miles, shifted hundreds of passengers and many, many tonnes of sweat inducing freight, from dogs to wellington boots, Kitchen sinks to chocolate.

Running through the checklist ...starter on and the turbine spools up, love that whine, if your lucky you might catch the delicious smell of the exhaust gas - burnt turbine fuel - wonderful.
Taxing out we are soon lined up, gentle breeze from the right, Bil vibrates with eagerness, as we leap down Kajjansi's grass and murram runway, first we're off to Entebbe International Airport only 12 miles away to refuel, clear Customs and sort out Immigration paperwork. I have Joey Lincoln and his wife and three small children on board, Joey is a pilot with MAF Congo in Bunia and is also an aircraft engineer - his father is Chief Engineer for MAF Congo based in Kajjansi! They had been working on one of MAF Congo's aircraft that had been parked in our hanger. We also have a couple of other NGO passengers  along with us as well, all seem very happy to be heading home.

It is only 160 miles on a 304 heading to Bunia, 1hr 10 min by Caravan but a long drive to this town in nestled just over the border in Eastern DRC. Climbing out to 10,500ft, it is a glorious day .just need to doge the odd cloud  Soon Lake Albert is in sight and once we are half way across - at the border, not a red dotted line in site despite looking hard for it over blue water's below. We descend into Bunia, crossing the ridge is beautiful, as we slide low over the high ground. The photo below shows a typical congolese town red rusted corrugated iron and dusty roads.  The airfield is easy to spot as it has a tarmac runway that today is easy to spot against the green background. Many UN helicopters squat half asleep like giant bumble bees, guarded by Bangladeshi UN troops, a pleasant and friendly bunch.
Paperwork is fairly speedy today and we only have 4 people to pick up. So we are quite light and all are ready and waiting. My clearance from the Bangladeshi controller is turn north from runway 28, which gives me a different view of town as every-time before it has always a southerly turn. Smoke billows out from a number of fires in the fields, in a few months their smoke will really help reduce visibility, as I am climb back over the ridge, turn on course heading back over Lake Albert, Entebbe bound... thinking what a great job I have.

Down Town Movie Time

Wednesday evening we entered the arena of downtown Kampala traffic - cars to the left of us, lorries to the right, cycles all over, we dodged our way through numerous close encounters emerging unscathed from our short battle, at our destination a somewhat battered old cinema. Not the talkie theatre of yester-year with faded velvet seats and usherets with torches.  But a somewhat down at mouth structure, seating for 50 in plastic seats on a bare concrete floor (or 150 in oxygen free, total discomfort) and a screen which was a white washed patch of wall. However it was home to a new church and a great place to show a movie!
I had gone out with Sam to show a Jesus film. Sam works with the Jesus Film Ministries, he travels all over Uganda at invitation, to show a variety of films about Jesus.
What a delight it was to meet some of these men and women whose lives had truly been turned upside down by an encounter with Jesus.
One of the guys who came, produces perhaps some of the best Chappati's in town, to get my order in, a lovely older lady called Anne who just loves these people as her own, acted as my guide, as it was not exactly on a main thoroughfare. You enter a 'lorry park', trashed lorries abound, duck under a trailer attached to a huge articulated behemoth (watch your head), squeeze alongside a wall and the trailers side, at the back is his little stall, uncooked chappati balls stand ready to be rolled and fried on a slightly rocky table, his home is a nearby wrecked truck. Greeted by a huge, a very real smile, order is placed, 'I'll bring them around when I come to the film.'
One of the mysteries of faith is that it is likely you would not have wanted anything to do with many of these folk a few years ago, certainly some would have been branded as dangerous, actually the sort of guys and gals Jesus kind of liked hanging around. Yet they had been transformed, are being transformed  - polished up, so God's image shines through such they are now truly our brothers and sisters.
The delight of the evening for me, was at the end, praying for queues of folk, as much wanting the pleasure of being prayed for, as much as their desire for God to meet their need be it for wisdom, healing or their marriage. Praying for folk really can be addictive ........

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Seeing is Believing?

Breath taking new evidence has just emerged that an exciting new Tarzan film may well be released soon - this unique photo was captured of our hero swinging effortlessly through the trees in an area of forest in the Entebbe Botanical gardens last used in the 1930's Tarzan production. This remarkable actor was heard to cry 'Yahoooo' as he swung from liana vine to liana vine - so this film is obviously made with British backing! 
I have photographic evidence and it is recorded in black and white yet some people doubt the veracity of what I have written.  Truth is worth looking for...

Saturday, 4 June 2011

24 hours ...

There was a beautiful 80 year old 4 masted Barque the Sea Cloud moored in the Little Russel a few days ago and I wondered how long it would take me to sail to East Africa. 
 Departing home always leaves me with an peculiar feeling, saying good bye, sadness and excitement.  My journey would have taken 10 days to complete by air in 1931 - I know as I have a first flight, dated air mail cover, or weeks & weeks by sea. 
 Bags in the car at 0920, only about 6 minutes to check-in at Guernsey airport, good ol Aurigny's ATR72 started up on time, by 1020 I was heading north into the mid morning sunshine. Coach to Heathrow - ipods are wonderful things, then a 5 hour wait before they would let me into departures for a decent cup of coffee!
Always wonder where every one is going at Heathrow,  after all I had a perfectly good reason to travel, as I was Uganda bound for work.  Every one shopping shopping shopping, so many looked board, impatient, tired, sad and some just lonely......

 The views from my bedroom are quite remarkable as the sun rose. I'd received a rather nice up-grade which meant the morning looked splendid over Niger at 540kts. Arguably breakfast was some of the fastest food  I've ever eaten.
Just 24 hours later I arrived at the MAF Guest House and some of the shops around the corner seemed so much quieter...
One thing I love about my job is enables me to be part of other peoples journeys, being a purveyor of hope.